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UK retailer The Very Group embarks on gen-AI push with AWS

The Very Group is reinforcing its commitment to using Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) cloud technologies by digging deep into its portfolio of artificial intelligence (AI) tools and services.

The UK-based retailer specialises in providing consumers with the option to buy brand-named goods on flexible payment terms, and is now looking to enhance the customer experience it offers through the use of AI.

The company is already using AI to forecast product demand and plan inventory, which it claims has led to better product availability and enhanced customer satisfaction, and it is now building on this to incorporate generative AI into its operations.

Specifically, the company has set its sights on creating the Generative AI Innovation Lab, which it hopes will pave the way for it to deliver “interactive and personalised” digital shopping experiences for its customers.

“The Gen AI Innovation Lab will trial new generative AI-powered retail [offerings] to revolutionise how customers shop on the e-commerce platform, combining advanced cloud and generative AI capabilities with Very’s retailing experience and insights,” said the company, in a statement.

“It will help create new products and immersive ecommerce offerings that will power more relevant, timely and personalised experiences for Very’s customers, and enable better decisions at scale for its colleagues.”

The Very Group said the creation of the Generative AI Innovation Lab will be a collaborative effort that will see its engineers and data teams draw on the expertise of Amazon’s newly created $100m Generative AI Innovation Centre.

The company also confirmed it would be using Amazon Bedrock to underpin its efforts in this area, which is a fully managed service that provides enterprises with access to foundation models through an application programming interface (API).

Matt Grest, CIO at The Very Group, said the aim of this body of work is to position the company as “one of the UK’s leading AI-powered retailers”.

Grest continued: “To keep our customers satisfied and transform our business operations, we’ve chosen to build on our existing strategic relationship with AWS and incubate new generative AI-powered products with a trusted collaborator and innovator who understands how we work with data at scale.”

Jeff Johnson, general manager for UK and Ireland at AWS, added: “Very is already leveraging machine learning to transform its business operations. Incorporating new generative AI capabilities like Amazon Bedrock will further enable the company to deliver the personalised experience that customers want to meet their shopping goals.” 

Ornella Urso, Head of Retail Insights Europe at IT market watcher IDC, said the approach Very is using to incorporate these new technologies into its operations will set a great example to other retailers about the difference AI can make to what they do.

“Fueled by generative AI, the opportunities for retailers to use data and analytics to improve both the customer experience and internal processes are enormous,” said Urso. 

“At IDC, we see improving product data as a top use case for retailers today, and The Very Group taps into that with its initiative to use generative AI to improve product descriptions and images. Long-term, tapping into generative AI not only brings innovation at the forefront of the retail industry, it is also aligned with The Very Group’s continuous efforts to improve the buying experience for their customers.”

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